A vaccine would offer the best defense as Covid cases in Northern Ireland are on the rise again, the chief scientific adviser said.

Lawfesser’s Ian Young said he expects an increase in infection rates for the virus to become apparent in the coming weeks, urging everyone eligible for flu and Covid vaccines to come forward for the jab. did.

The medic was speaking when a senior doctor warned that patients were dying awaiting treatment and the cancellation of surgery was imminent due to the increasing pressure in the system.

Aside from a £450m budget shortfall, the absence of a health minister and the threat of industrial action by health workers, there are growing concerns about the NHS’ ability to cope with the combined impact of influenza and Covid-19.

At a Department of Health briefing Wednesday afternoon, Professor Young said effluent analyzes, hospital Covid-19 case rates and Office of National Statistics figures suggest the virus is on the rise again in Northern Ireland. said.


Stormont Chief Scientific Advisor Professor Ian Young

“I think all of these indicators are starting to show early signs of an outbreak, and I have high hopes that we will see that in the next week or two,” he said.

“The published numbers may look fine at the moment, but all the early indicators we see today point in one direction.

“The question is not whether cases are rising, but how big the wave is and what effect it will have on putting more pressure on hospitals.

“One big measure we have to weaken it to try to reduce it is the vaccine booster program.”

Reiterating hopes for high flu and Covid-19 vaccine uptake in the coming months, Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael McBride also issued public health guidelines on things like face coverings in confined spaces. I urged people to remember

While so-called winter pressures have become commonplace in the NHS all year round, the situation has worsened in recent days, prompting senior health officials to speak out.

Dr Paul Carr, vice-chancellor of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine in Northern Ireland, said the patient was dying in the emergency department trolley as he faced delays in treatment and admission to the ward.

“Everyone is very worried because the situation is very serious and it keeps getting worse.”

Meanwhile, the Royal College of Surgeons is trying to free up beds and reduce pressure on emergency departments, warning of the impending cancellation of scheduled surgeries.

In response to the crisis, Health Minister Robin Swann said ongoing political instability in Stormont has hampered attempts to alleviate the suffering of patients and staff.

The UUP minister said he was “sharply aware” of the pressures being endured across the health and social care system.

He continues:

“This is not just Northern Ireland.

“Healthcare and social care as a whole are focused on increasing activity levels post-pandemic so that a greater proportion of the population’s health and social care needs can be met.

“A key part of that is to alleviate the severe pressures expected over the winter by mobilizing available capacity across health and social care.

“We have already announced measures to stabilize primary care ahead of the winter pressures, and we will have overall plans in the near future.

“It’s important to be honest with the public. These issues have been going on for years and there is no quick fix.

“We can all help in some small way. Please use our services appropriately.

“If you are eligible, get Covid-19 and flu shots, help with the discharge process and help make beds for others. please give me.

“As we all know, the long-term challenge is to significantly increase the capacity of our systems through investments in people and technology and changes in how we deliver key services.

“That work has certainly not been helped by the continued lack of Northern Ireland’s budget and the massive spending overruns facing my ministry.”

On Tuesday, Dr. Sandy Nelson, an emergency medical consultant at Altnagervin Hospital, publicly complained about the pressure in the ward where he works.

In a video posted online by Western Trust, Dr. Nelson said:

“I’m in the emergency department right now. It’s noon on October 4th. There are 110 patients in the department.

“There are 45 people waiting for a bed at the hospital.

“There are four ambulances waiting to be unloaded, which means they cannot go out into the area to see the emergency.

“There are patients everywhere and we are suffering.

“If you can do anything for us, like picking up a relative who is about to be discharged from the hospital as soon as possible, or saving the emergency department in case of an absolute emergency, we would greatly appreciate it. .

“We are really in a tight spot and need your help at this time.”

Meanwhile, the Northern Trust said emergency departments in hospitals in the area were facing “extreme pressure”.

The Trust tweeted:

“Again, unless your condition is urgent or life-threatening, we ask for your help not to attend.

“Thank you for your consideration and patience.”

The Belfast Trust said:

“People who go to the emergency department for non-urgent conditions can have a very long wait to see a doctor.

“Only attend the emergency department if your condition is urgent and requires immediate attention.”

The South Eastern Trust tweeted that 135 patients were waiting at Ulster Hospital.

The Trust said:

“There are 135 patients in our department, 50 are waiting to be admitted. Seriously ill patients are seen first.”

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